How to Nail on Three Tab Shingles


A proper nailing pattern and technique prevents shingles from loosening and pulling away from a roof, particularly during high winds. Although nailing recommendations vary according to product, three tab shingles generally require four to six nails fastened in a standard pattern. Additionally, a nail driven straight into roofing materials with its head flush against the shingle's surface has increased holding power compared to crooked or countersunk nails. Whether you're using a hammer or a roofing nail gun, you can follow standard installation procedure to improve the holding power of your shingles.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer or roofing nail gun
  • Roofing nails or roofing gun nails
  • Align the loose shingle with the adjacent, installed shingle. Load a roofing nail gun with roofing nails or hold a single roofing nail in one hand and a hammer in the other. If using a nail gun, use one hand to stabilize the shingle's position. If using a hammer, stabilize the shingle's position with the butt of the palm of your hand that is holding the nail; using the butt of your palm keeps your fingers and hand free to position the nail.

  • Position the nail or nail gun 1 inch from the end of the shingle that butts against the adjacent shingle; in other words, on a horizontal plane, 1 inch inward from the shingle's "side." Align the nail or nail gun approximately halfway between the shingle's adhesive strip and the end of the tab's cut-out; cut-out refers to the slit that runs from the shingle's bottom edge to approximately the center of the shingle.

  • Drive the nail through the shingle and into the sheathing with a nail gun or hammer the nail with a hammer. If using a nail gun, align the gun perpendicular to the roof's surface so the nail drives straight. If using a hammer, use deliberate, forceful blows to ensure that the nail drives straight. Pound the nail until the nail's head rests flush with the shingle's surface.

  • Place the second nail above the tab cut-out closest to the first nail and halfway between the cut-out and the shingle's adhesive strip. To proceed with a four-nail installation, leave the nail in this position, drive the straight through the shingle and flush with shingle's surface. For a six-nail, high-wind installation, move the nail approximately 1 inch to the left of the cut-out and drive the nail. If performing a six-nail installation, place a nail approximately 1 inch to the right of the cut-out and drive the nail.

  • Set a nail above the remaining tab cut-out and position the nail halfway between the cut-out's top and the shingle's adhesive strip. If you are performing a four-nail installation, drive the nail through the shingle. If you are performing a six-nail installation, drive a nail one inch to either side of the cut-out slit.

  • Align a final nail at the loose end of the shingle, 1 inch inward from the edge and halfway between the end of the cut-out slits and the adhesive strip. Drive the nail through the shingle with a nail gun or hammer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult local building authorities for information regarding 4 or 6 nail patterns; nailing requirements vary according to wind loads and local codes.
  • Straight and flush nailing is important. If you have trouble driving nails, consider renting a roofing nail gun from the local hardware store. Properly nailing with a roofing nail gun requires less effort and time than using a hammer.

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